We would like to inspire you with a selection of Recognition & Rewards initiatives taking place at Erasmus University Rotterdam and Erasmus Medical Centre. The initiatives are in different phases and are of different sizes.
As core team Recognition & Rewards, we warmly invite all faculties/organisational units to share their good practices and challenges with us. Once again, it is important to note that the framework and roadmap offer room for interpretation and implementation for the individual faculties. In addition, we are working on a database of good practices from both within and outside the EUR.
Ruth Graham's "Career Framework for University Teaching" is an excellent illustration of a new system for recognising and rewarding academic staff that is currently in use outside the Netherlands.
For all educationally active academics, the Framework offers:
- A structured pathway for career development based on the scholar's contribution to teaching and learning at the university;
- An evidence base against which the academic's performance in teaching can be evaluated and demonstrated at appointment, promotion, professional development and annual appraisal.
One of the basic principles of Erasmus MC's educational vision, "To be a doctor in 2030", is that education, research and patient care are core tasks of equal value and that constructive connections should be made between them wherever possible. By providing the framework for a teaching career to become a full professor, Erasmus MC makes a structural and fundamental contribution to educational innovation, the quality of education and the level of professional knowledge of lecturers.
The model for an educational career at Erasmus MC is characterised by:
- Assigning equal value to teaching and research in job profiles and performance appraisals, and giving academics time and space to focus on teaching;
- The requirement to be active in one or more of the following fields in addition to teaching: educational innovation, educational research and educational organisation;
- Compliance with the minimum guidelines for academic research. This is allowed in the specific research areas of assistant and associate professors. A research focus on teaching is not essential for an appointment as assistant professor or associate professor;
- In order to promote further diversity in academic profiles, since mid-2020 a narrative CV has been requested as part of the PhD track, with the idea of enabling a more holistic impression of a scientist's achievements. This allows academics to emphasize the qualitative aspects of their scientific career. In addition, Erasmus MC has an internal scholarship programme to fund ambitious translational research by clinicians and basic scientists working together. It also conducts talent reviews to help departments identify, train and motivate talented researchers, including those in clinical research.
Open access (OA) refers to research output that is distributed online, freely read, and with limited or no copyright restrictions. Popular options include: (i) Gold OA: content is immediately available for free on the journal's website, often after payment of a publication fee by authors; (ii) Diamond OA: journals publish open access without charging authors (the costs are covered by other entities, e.g. academic institutions); (iii) Green OA (self-archiving): independently of publishers, authors place a copy of their work in the institutional repository or another trusted repository.
Various OA options allow researchers to get early feedback from peers and draw more attention to their work at little or no cost.
Open data refers to data underlying scientific research results that are not subject to access restrictions, with the aim of accelerating the transfer of knowledge, promoting collaboration and ensuring the verifiability of published findings. Open data requires a good understanding of legal and ethical principles (Are participants properly informed? What are the potential risks?) as well as technical skills (e.g. for anonymisation and data storage), and should therefore be properly recognised as an important research output.
Erasmus School of Social and Behavioural Science (ESSB) is conducting a pilot study on career differentiation. Currently, five career profiles are available:
- Standard profile: 40% research/60% education;
- Education-oriented profile: 80% education/20% research
- Research-oriented profile: 75% research/25% education;
- Leadership/management oriented profile: customised
- Impact-oriented profile: customised, but always linked to research or teaching activities and with a strong emphasis on cooperation with societal stakeholders.
All assistant professors (after ~4 years in a standard profile) and associate professors can express a preference for a specific profile. In all profiles, promotion from assistant to associate professor is possible.
In the pursuit of a more differentiated interpretation of the professorial role within our department, we at RSM began by setting team goals and discussing everyone's contribution to achieving these goals as a collective of professors. We began the process by discussing each goal we hoped to achieve in the next three to five years and how we could turn the sum of these goals into a shared ambition for the whole team.
Importantly, we also held a frank but honest and respectful peer feedback session where professors commented on various dimensions of each other's performance, behaviour and approach to teamwork. This not only enabled us to set team-related goals and identify differentiated but complementary ways in which each professor could contribute, but also paved the way for individual learning and development based on the feedback on the aforementioned achievements.
Everyone at our university agrees that good leadership is important for the success of the Recognition & Rewards initiative. We are currently investing in the development of good leadership skills at all job levels. Various training courses are already available through the EUR Training and Development Platform (TOP) and within a number of faculties.
A new course on leadership skills for senior academic staff (professors) was recently developed and introduced. "Senior leadership in academia", as the course is called, was developed in cooperation with the Recognition & Rewards core team and corresponds to the EUR framework for Recognition & Rewards.
A vision on future leadership
Finally, leadership was the main theme of the recent Executive Management Days event (April 2021). During the event, executive managers (both academic and support) had in-depth discussions on the importance of good leadership and the relationship between leadership, recognition & rewards and social impact. They also outlined the first steps in developing a vision for future leadership within EUR.
Although the culture change surrounding the Recognition & Rewards project is an important step forward for the academic community, we acknowledge that it is also a complex and challenging (cultural) change that raises many questions. Below, we present some of the challenges we have encountered, not only at the EUR but also at other universities. By identifying the challenges, we can set a clear agenda for further discussion and development of this cultural change.
- What opportunities should there be for temporary staff and, for example, PhD students, post-doctoral scholars and tutors/teachers?
- Should a minimum level be defined for each core domain (research, teaching, leadership, social impact and patient care), and if so, at what level?
- How do we create a balanced working environment that encourages individuals and teams to work together and is challenging at the same time?
- What factors should be taken into account when forming teams? Possible factors are; team size and representation of the most important core domains (research, education, leadership, social impact and patient care).
- How do we achieve a good balance between qualitative and quantitative indicators?
- What is a good narrative?
- How do we prevent bias in evaluation using qualitative indicators and narratives, and how much extra time/effort does this cost?
- To what extent are the steps taken at the EUR with regard to Recognition & Rewards in line with other universities, both nationally and internationally?
- What if other universities change less quickly or at a different pace? What does this mean for the further career of individual scientists if they want to make a career outside EUR?
- How do we ensure that the qualifications of academics who opt for differentiated career paths are recognised internationally when they leave EUR?
- How does this cultural change affect the distribution of financial resources at different levels, e.g. within departments, faculties and institutions, as well as at the administrative level?
- Will this cultural change help to reduce the workload in the workplace or is this problem largely caused by insufficient core funding and an over-reliance on competition for external funding (2nd and 3rd stream funding), the application of which places an excessive burden on academics?
- Do differentiated career paths perhaps require a tightening of funding application policies?
- How do we create an environment that supports an entrepreneurial mindset and efforts to create social impact?